Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who served for the majority of the Trump administration, is worried the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased face mask restrictions too early.
What is the background?
As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths plummeted this spring, the CDC rescinded face mask and other COVID-related restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals.
The CDC's most recent guidance, in fact, says fully vaccinated individuals should "resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic."
What did Adams say?
With COVID-19 cases spiking in some areas — which public health experts attribute to the so-called "Delta variant" — Adams expressed dismay over eased COVID restrictions.
"Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks. I felt it was the best call at the time, but now regret it," Adams wrote on Twitter. "I'm worried the CDC also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call on masking in the face of [rising] delta variant."
Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks. I felt it was the best call at t… https://t.co/uwNtZ3kMNR— Jerome Adams (@Jerome Adams)1626563706.0
In fact, Adams called on CDC officials to admit they were "wrong" and re-enact face mask requirements to prevent municipalities — like Los Angeles County, which has re-enacted its indoor face mask mandate — from being in direct conflict with CDC guidance.
"The sooner CDC says we were wrong, & hits the reset button, the better," Adams said. "Trust me- I know more than anyone."
"Instead of vax it OR mask it, the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it AND mask it in areas with [increasing] cases and positivity- until we see numbers going back down again," he added. "CDC was well intended, but the message was misinterpreted, premature, & wrong. Let's fix it."
Instead of vax it OR mask it, the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it AND mask it in areas with… https://t.co/ilbRd86XgR— Jerome Adams (@Jerome Adams)1626563872.0
Will the CDC heed Adams' advice?
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy addressed Adams' remarks Sunday and explained the CDC's current guidance was designed to permit flexibility between governments, a suggestion that current guidance may remain in place.
"I think the CDC's guidance around masks was intended, actually, to give flexibility to individuals and to localities, recognizing that in this next phase of the pandemic, as we move into more of a local and regional response based on peoples' vaccination rates in community, that that guidance around what to do with mitigation measures like masks would also be tailored locally," Murphy explained on CNN.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has not said whether the CDC will re-enact indoor face mask requirements. She did, however, say recently that face masks, of course, do not protect fully vaccinated Americas because the vaccine is providing them necessary protection from COVID-19 variants.
"If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States," Walensky said.